United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States of America

Beginning in late summer of 2018, the continuing wave of revelations related to sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church has brought new depths of grief and anger to the lay faithful. The enabling and cover-up of abuse by bishops, in particular, is a profound scandal.

Those who have signed this letter do not agree in every detail on the causes and possible cures of this disaster. They do agree, above all, in asking that the bishops acknowledge the gravity of this betrayal and respond with great urgency.

Signatures will be collected through February 19, 2019. This petition will be delivered to the president of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, prior to a meeting in the Vatican, beginning February 21, 2019, on “the protection of minors.”

Questions? Please contact Holly Taylor Coolman, htc@providence.edu.

Dear fathers and brothers in Christ,

We write with profoundly heavy hearts. The latest wave of revelations regarding sexual abuse in the Church, and the way in which that abuse was covered up and made possible, has pushed us to a breaking point.

Abuse and the enabling of abuse are not simply individual sins to be forgiven. They are a radical and ongoing affront to the Church's witness to the Gospel. They communicate contempt for the people of God, and particularly the most vulnerable members.

As bishops, successors to the Apostles, you have the roles of teaching, governing and sanctifying God's people. The response to many cases of reported abuse represents failure to accomplish these on the most fundamental level. We are asking you now to take responsibility as a pastoral body for this failure.

We are not your enemies. We are your people. We grew up in your schools and parishes. We brought our children for baptism. We are parents, teachers, workers, scholars. For some of us, work in and for the Church is our livelihood. We are simply heartsick.

For the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the Church, we the undersigned plead with you to recognize the extreme gravity of this uniquely consequential crisis and t0 respond in a courageous and serious manner.

We implore you—as a Conference and as individual bishops—to consider bolder actions, including public penance; the voluntary release of all relevant diocesan records to civil authorities; the establishment of lay-led oversight committees; prayer for the victims, both private and public; the creation of remembrances for the victims and their suffering; the resignation of those in authority; and even dismissal from the clerical state and exposure to criminal prosecution; as well as any other measure that addresses this calamity.

We urge you to act with all the courage and intelligence that can be brought to bear, coupled with an urgency that recognizes the current and future consequences of this catastrophe.

Put aside strategies of minimization or mitigation.

For the sake of Christ and his Church, do not delay.

Respectfully signed,

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The Letter to the Catholic Bishops petition to United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was written by Holly Coolman and is in the category Religion at GoPetition.